Thursday, August 12, 2021
Similar to its federal counterpart, Texas Rule of Evidence 606(b)(1) provides that
During an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify about any statement made or incident that occurred during the jury’s deliberations; the effect of anything on that juror’s or another juror’s vote; or any juror’s mental processes concerning the verdict or indictment. The court may not receive a juror’s affidavit or evidence of a juror’s statement on these matters.
So, does this rule also apply to a note sent by a juror to the judge during the punishment phase of trial? That was the question addressed today in State v. Gallien, 2021 WL 3556016 (Tex.App. 2021).
In Gallien, a jury found Dennis Edward Gallien guilty of aggravated robbery. Subsequently, during the punishment phase of trial,
In deeming this note inadmissible in support of Gallien's motion for a new trial, the court concluded that
Textually, Rule 606(b) applies only to inquiries into the validity of an indictment or a verdict to determine a juror's competency to act as a witness in those inquiries....The rule does not limit its application to post-trial evidence, nor does it exclude from its application a juror's statement provided after the guilty verdict but before the end of trial....And, given that the rule applies to inquiries into a verdict's validity, it logically follows that the rule's application is not limited to post-trial evidence but also applies to a juror's testimony or statement obtained post-verdict even if obtained before the trial's end as part of the proceedings. Supporting this conclusion, Texas courts have characterized Rule 606(b) as prohibiting consideration of a juror's post-verdict testimony or statements.